Murder at the Magnolia Inn by Helena Marchmont

Murder at the Magnolia Inn by Helena Marchmont

I really enjoy the Bunburry stories. The characters are fun and quirky and the setting is a typical, lovely small town, with an incompetent police sergeant. This time around Alfie, Liz, Marge, and Emma agree to help the two women who are developing the old manor house into a hotel. At first, they're dealing with vandalism, then a man is killed. The characters are what bring me back to this series. Alfie is funny and in this one his women troubles are mostly set aside. Marge and Liz are smart older women and I wish I had their fudge recipe. Emma is caring and I don't know how/why she puts up with the sergeant. Oscar has an interesting part too. I'm hoping we start seeing him around Bunburry more. The mystery was a bit rushed, but the solution made sense and I liked that it took all of our investigators to find the various bits that came together in the end. I'm looking...
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Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie

Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie

I know to trust Agatha Christie, but her international thriller-type books are not my favorite. So, when Cat Among the Pigeons started out with a revolution in Ramat, I was a bit worried. Prince Ali Yusef is preparing to leave the country, but before he does, he entrusts his good friend with a fortune in jewels, asking that they be gotten to England and to the man who will know what to do with them. The jewels end up at a Meadowbank, a prestigious girls school, along with several people on their trail, and this is the kind of setting I like. It's a closed group of people, the students and the staff. Soon, the phys ed teacher is killed. The killer has to be at the school, but the investigation doesn't progress well, and two more people end up dead. Eventually (over 2/3 into the book), Poirot takes on the case. Poirot doesn't do much investigating here. A bit of talking...
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The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

My mom and I both read Penny's Gamache series. She loves all of them; I like the "smaller" mysteries, the ones that don't involve institutional corruption or cross-country drug trafficking. The Madness of Crowds is one of those smaller, more personal mysteries. We're back in Three Pines, which is always nice, and Gamache and his whole family are there for the holidays. Gamache is asked to provide security for a professor's lecture, but, of course, it's not quite as simple as it sounds. The professor's visit and talk lead to moral dilemmas, violence, and ultimately a death.  The mystery itself was fine. We have several suspects, even if I question why a couple of them would make the list- the motives seem rather weak. The clues are revealed slowly, allowing us to discover them along with Gamache as he and his team pull back the layers of people's lives, discovering their secrets and past choices. Penny does touch on COVID, or the...
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The Cure for What Ales You by Ellie Alexander

The Cure for What Ales You by Ellie Alexander

Sloan works at a craft brewery in the Pacific Northwest. The town has a faux-Bavarian ambiance and attracts a lot of tourists. I enjoy spending time in the town and with Sloan and her friends and family. I love how the town actually likes its tourists and how the townspeople all know and look out for each other. Of course, quirky characters and a good setting can just about carry any cozy mystery - thankfully. Our victim here is a housekeeper at a local hotel, but that investigation is overshadowed by the return of a woman from Sloan's past claiming to be her aunt. Honestly, I hope we're finally done with all the stuff from Sloan's childhood. It all seems unlikely and over the top and detracts from a good series. If the author could just keep the focus on the murders in the town, and not veer off into organized crime or drugs or whatever, I'd be much happier. Sloan's present...
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The Family Plot by Megan Collins

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

Dahlia Lighthouse and her siblings had an unconventional childhood, to say the least. They were homeschooled and along with geography, they were taught about famous serial killers and their victims by their obsessed parents. The way they grew up, sheltered, surrounded by historical murders, has obviously affected how they live in the world off the island and how they relate to other people. And now three of the siblings, now adults, are back home. Dad's dead, but someone else's body is found in his grave - Andy, who they all thought ran away years ago. So the mystery is who killed Andy. Dahlia is desperate to find out what happened to her twin. I don't know if mystery is really the right word. Yes, we have some clues and an investigation, but the book is more about the oppressive atmosphere of the Lighthouse home, of the suspicion of the other islanders, of secrets and obsession and coping. The tone is dark and...
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Death at High Tide by Hannah Dennison

Death at High Tide by Hannah Dennison

I loved the setting in Death at High Tide. We have a 1920s hotel that was updated a bit too much in the 70s on a remote island in the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall. The island can only be reached at low tide and it's off season, so very few people are staying there. Like any good isolated setting, we have a limited number of people. Evie and her sister, Margot, are our main characters. Evie's husband has recently died, leaving Evie on pretty shaky financial ground. But, there were papers that suggested she may be the owner of the hotel, so Evie and Margot head off, to see the hotel and to get away for a weekend. The sisters are a good pair, opposites who nevertheless support each other when push comes to shove. We've got the husband and wife who own the hotel, a couple of staff, and an older, nosy woman who lives there...
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